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How WhatsApp Chatbots Can Increase Access to Services in Emerging Markets


A laptop and 2 people pointing on the screen.

Emerging Markets often have a larger digital divide, where many people lack access to the internet and digital services. However, WhatsApp chatbots can help address this issue and increase access to services in these countries.


Two billion users use WhatsApp worldwide and its ease of use, market penetration, and low data requirements make it a great tool to boost access to services in Emerging Markets.




 

What is a WhatsApp Chatbot?


WhatsApp chatbots are automated tools that interact with users through the messaging app. Public and private organizations can therefore provide a range of services, including customer support, ordering products, and even diagnosing medical issues.


One of the key advantages of WhatsApp chatbots is that they are easily accessible through a simple messaging app: many people in emerging markets already have access to WhatsApp, even if they don't have a smartphone or internet connection. In many cases, people can access WhatsApp through public Wi-Fi hotspots or by sharing phones with others in their community.


Whatsapp chatbots can be accessed through low-speed internet connections, making them ideal for remote areas with limited internet infrastructure. They can be accessed through 2G networks, which are commonly used in many emerging markets. This means that even people living in remote areas with limited internet access can still access services provided through chatbots.



What are the advantages of Whatsapp Chatbots in supplying services in Emerging Markets?


Whatsapp chatbots are therefore easily accessible even when internet infrastructures are not fully developed. Let’s now see some of the other benefits of Whatsapp Chatbots:


24/7 availability: Whatsapp Chatbots are computer programs and therefore always available, which makes them convenient for people who may not be able to access services during regular business hours. They can provide instant responses and quick access to information, eliminating the need for long wait times or physical travel to access services.


Personalized services: Whatsapp chatbots can be programmed to provide tailored recommendations and solutions based on user input, which can lead to better outcomes and increased satisfaction.


Integration: Whatsapp Chatbots can be integrated with other digital platforms, such as mobile payments, to provide a seamless experience for users. This can increase the accessibility of services, particularly in areas where traditional banking infrastructure may be limited.



What type of services can be effectively offered via WhatsApp Chatbots?


Various types of services can be effectively offered via WhatsApp Chatbots.

Here are a few examples:


Healthcare services: In many emerging markets, people living in remote areas have limited access to healthcare services. WhatsApp Chatbots can be used to provide medical advice, medication reminders, and appointment scheduling, among other services.


Education services: WhatsApp Chatbots can be used to provide educational materials, such as textbooks, videos, and quizzes. This can be particularly useful in areas with limited access to schools or universities.


Financial services: Many people in emerging markets do not have access to traditional banking services. WhatsApp Chatbots can provide financial services, such as money transfers, bill payments, and account balance inquiries.


Customer service: Companies can use WhatsApp Chatbots to provide customer service, such as answering frequently asked questions, processing orders, and resolving complaints.


Government services: Governments can use WhatsApp Chatbots to provide services, such as issuing birth certificates, passports, and driving licenses, as well as providing information on public services, such as transportation and utilities.


Chart of the consequences of a Lack of Digital Trust.


Use cases


There are several successful use cases of WhatsApp Chatbots in emerging markets for providing services to remote areas with little internet infrastructure:


Health Services: In India, the Apollo Hospitals Group launched a WhatsApp Chatbot to provide teleconsultation services to people in rural and remote areas. Patients can consult with doctors using the Chatbot, receive prescriptions, and even schedule follow-up appointments.


Agriculture Services: In Nigeria, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) launched a Chatbot to provide farmers with information about soil fertility, crop management, and market prices. The Chatbot uses machine learning to provide personalized recommendations to farmers based on their specific needs.


Education Services: In South Africa, the Praekelt Foundation launched a WhatsApp Chatbot called "MAMA" to provide maternal health information to women. The Chatbot also offers educational resources on child development, nutrition, and family planning.


Financial Services: In Kenya, the Commercial Bank of Africa launched a WhatsApp Chatbot to allow customers to check their account balances, transfer funds, and even apply for loans. The Chatbot has successfully reached customers in remote areas who may not have access to traditional banking services.


Government Services: In Indonesia, the government launched a WhatsApp Chatbot to provide citizens with real-time information about COVID-19, including case numbers, testing locations, and safety guidelines. The Chatbot has been instrumental in reaching citizens in remote areas and ensuring they have access to timely and accurate information.



Chart of the digital trust-related Benefits.


Conclusion


In conclusion, the potential of WhatsApp chatbots to address the digital divide and increase access to services in emerging markets is immense.


By leveraging the widespread use of WhatsApp in these regions, chatbots can provide convenient, low-cost, and effective means of delivering services to remote areas with limited internet infrastructure.


The various use cases discussed earlier highlight the broad range of services that can be effectively offered via WhatsApp chatbots, including healthcare, education, financial services, and more.


As chatbot technology continues to advance and more organizations and governments adopt this approach, we can expect to see a significant impact in bridging the digital divide and promoting economic growth and development in emerging markets.



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